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  Don't ignore free TV!

Local-access cable TV is more than "Wayne's World," and it can be part of yours.

If you never considered local access as part of a marketing plan, consider this:

   It can be a localized form of "underwriting." That's the buzzword NPR uses for brief advertising messages that bring home the point that a business supports public broadcasting, one tagline at a time. Some community cable-access corporations are themselves independent nonprofits that can and do accept and acknowledge underwriting.

   Or, like much of public relations, public-access programs can be outlets for proactive, informative messages in the ever-entrancing medium of television.

   Whatever cost exists is in the production, but the use of the footage doesn't stop there. Clips can be distributed in press kits or, better still, mounted on your website and played on YouTube.

Federal law requires cable providers to offer communities local-access programming that is noncommercial and may be submitted, produced or sponsored by any local resident. However many communities are starved for content to keep their local-access stations interesting. So the noncommercial test is most important, with local submission a secondary concern.

This provides excellent opportunities for local or regional businesses or organizations to get their messages out. For businesses, the origin of the programming - you - may be the only direct mention you get by name, but educating the public about what it is you do, what moves you, may well move them. It might be Italian cooking or tips on plumbing and heating.

For nonprofits, it's a no-brainer: You are non-commercial, so dig in. Your complete message is in-bounds and of service to potential clients, as well as informative to potential funding sources.

Obviously, you want your content to be consistent with your messaging through advertising, public relations and other forms of marketing, but distinct in its informational value without overt commercial content - the call to action or to come in and buy.

It's really a win-win for your potential customers and enterprises that know that quick-hit coupons in a newspaper ad are not going to sustain your presence in the marketplace over the long haul. It will be your reservoir of trust and good will.

Ten Ideas to Waste Time
and Money on Your Website

1) You paid for a nice brochure. Just modify that for the Web.

2) Go for looks.

3) It looks great, even reads well, so leave it alone.

4) Talk all about you. You, you, you.

5) Go big into special effects and multimedia to make your site stand out (animation, video, sound, etc.)

6) Use your writing talent for prose on your    web copy.

7) My competition has that online, and I
    want it, too

8) You don't need your employees to tell     you what belongs on the site.

9) Put the site up as soon as it's ready.

10) If you build it they will come

Six Myths of Publicity

1) It's free advertising. There are hard-sellers who push publicity as such, but whether you hire a professional or do it yourself, time is money. The key is to evaluate that cost vs. other options and expected results. With proper publicity, your sales will get a bounce.

2) It's press releases. It's more. Services emphasizing their press release capabilities may be offering you an inappropriate approach. Personal contacts work, and press releases alone are not always the best route.

3) The more, the better. Scattershot publicity or e-mail blasts may be worse than ineffective; they may ruin your credibility with those you want relationships with.

4) Push hard and score. That may work once, if you only want publicity once. Know how to push, when to push and whom to push, or hire someone who does.

5) Publicity is the ticket. It is a boost. But it's most properly part of a coordinated marketing plan

6) It's for self-promoter types, not me. The worst approach to publicity is to consider whether it's for you. It's for your customers. You probably have a great story to tell. You may or may not be the focus of that story. But your product or service, one way or another, will be.

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datzmedia: Your Communications Department
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